I recently bought some nail polish because I decided to maybe try my hand at performing again, and try to recapture some of the magnificence that was Horseboy. And to be Horseboy or a slightly shifty somewhat genderless 80's alter ego, one needs nail polish. A day later Vegan Cuts made a video about their summer nail polish box. In it they discussed a bottle by Black Sheep Nail Lacquer. I checked out all of the brands in the video, but as soon as I found Black Sheep, I knew I'd found my kind of polish. So I emailed Erin (who owns Black Sheep and makes all of the polishes) to ask about the colors of her chemical-light completely vegan product! We both love Zelda. I saw she also has tiny bottles (I don't use enough nail polish for the performances to ever finish a big bottle), and she was able to send me some along with a base coat and super shiny topcoat. There's also a matte topcoat, a holographic one and a thermal one. But I'd definitely recommend the super shiny, it is well and truly super shiny and beautiful. Anyway, Erin informed me that she could send 6 bottles for 10 dollars shipping, so I asked for 3 colors I liked, a base coat, a top coat, and a surprise. Isn't that the nicest thing? That you know the person who makes your nail polish and she will send you a surprise? I asked her to send something that wasn't red or more pink, because I am not a big fan of the classics, and Horseboy is a boy, so he needs masculine polish.
Ok, on to the review of the actual lacquer. Otherwise this post will just be me raving about Erin, and even though that's fun, it might not be very helpful to you, 12 readers who probably don't care about nail polish. Don't judge a book by my swatches. I tried to capture it on camera, but the picture doesn't do it justice. The Jaw Breaker is a bit pink when you use it by itself, but still absolutely delightful. I used it with every other lacquer on the left of each nail as you can see, and it is gorgeous combined with the deep purple (and the other ones, but especially the purple). Suddenly it's not just pink, but the green glitter pops out :). As for the Black Sheep color, it's a deep black with a hint of silver, but still quite subtle. The orange-purple duo chrome Dark Knight might be the loveliest nail polish I have ever seen, and Erin included an almost grey purple-silver polish with tiny jade glitter in there as the surprise. It's only because I love the purple one so much that this isn't the prettiest nail polish I've ever seen, but OMG those green glitters in there! It matches perfectly with the other three. For those of you not trying to be Adam Ant: Erin has all of the colors, from the most girly pink and vampy 50's red to the scariest Star Trek purple-green. And more if you ask her nicely, really, just contact her and she has stuff you couldn't dream up in your wildest dreams.
Now you guys know I'm a fan of the hyperbole, but I can't begin to tell you how nice it is to buy stuff from a person with a vision and a passion for making peoples nails shiny instead of just some faceless company called China Glaze. They are cool too, but they're no Black Sheep. Also, you will need to find some (vegan) polish remover, and so far I have not been successful, but I still have some Zoya (some of their stuff is vegan) left from last year and at least it smells good? So I will keep using that. Ok, to wrap this up: the polish is relatively affordable, especially compared to Zoya! I think the price is super reasonable, especially when you consider the handmade part. And I think it's so much nicer to have tiny bottles with more different colors, instead of big ones that you can never finish. You need about two or three thin coats to make it work, and it goes on quite well. It's a little bit fiddly, but putting paint on your nails with a tiny brush is always fiddly. The smell is ok, just like the China Glaze and Zoya polishes. It just smells like nail polish, and will stop smelling after about a day. You'd smell better without it on your hands, but then your nails would not be gorgeous and sparkly, and you know you want to be gorgeous and sparkly and wearing red fake leather pants with a crop top. You know you do!
PS. I went to see the Pet Shop Boys last week. It was repulsively expensive, but it's also some of the best money I've ever spent. What it lacked in spontaneity it more than made up for in excellence, joy and stage design. I have never seen such amazing lighting design, nor such striking costumes! Both the dancers and the almost theatrical use of music with images deserve a mention as well. Did I mention they are excellent live? And the audience was also super nice and enthusiastic, it was no problem at all to be there by myself and I actually met an acquaintance there and that was fun. I usually feel a bit awkward at concerts, but a very tall woman and her equally tall boyfriend actually made sure my 5 ft could stand in front of them and watch as well as dance! So if you ever get the chance: go see them IRL. They are every bit as good as you'd expect from their reputation. The only concert I've seen that was better so far, was Iggy Pop on Lowlands, with Thomas Azier as a close third. And oh, those cow-skull-80's-hair-band-masks, they are a brilliant work of art, even better live :). Also, they played Rent, Thursday, It's a Sin and Miracles. The only way they could've made it better, is if they'd have played Flamboyant. But I'm not complaining. I am still on a cattle-skull-induced high! Just as I left I heard a guy remarking to his boyfriend: "They played our song, just like nine years ago when we met". That is the cutest thing I've ever heard anyone say at a concert!
August 18th, 2014
The very first oops is forgetting to post this. I never hit publish. It has been sitting in the "drafts" inbox for 7 weeks now? So here goes, belatedly, but still. We now know it takes roughly three and a half weeks for an eyebrow to grow back.
At some point (instead of buying a shirt with 50 Cent as a gorgeous specimen of over-trained man-meat on the front) I decided to attempt a mindfuck by adopting the stripe-y shaved eyebrow thing in the retro-manner of Vanilla Ice (or indeed the manner of 50 Cent). In a non-gender-normative overthought hipster kind of way. I have recently taken to wearing ridiculous heels with very big sweaters and very hairy everything else. Actually, only the heels are new, and the hairy-part is because I refuse to apologize for it any longer. I am woman hear me roar! With the eyebrows, I thought it'd be perfect because a 5 ft feminist woman looking like a misogynist rapper, that's hilarious. And if anyone has the dark, contrasting, and ample eyebrows for it, it would be me. However, it turns out these shaved stripes require a very experienced or expensive stylist or just someone with a more precise trimmer than the one I have. Because I am currently missing 1/4th of an eyebrow. No amount of powder will cover it up. I look like a mutant Vulcan-human hybrid, but in a bad way. How long does it take for eyebrows to grow back?
Second oops is this instant popcorn thing. It is very boring and tasteless, whilst still being almost as fat and unhealthy as deep-fried potato crisps. The next time, I will just take the crisps. I saw it, for only half a euro, but not only is that still massively more expensive than making it yourself from kernels, it is also way less delicious. It tastes of styrofoam, whilst freshly popped popcorn popped in a layer of olive oil is fragrant, healthier and you can season it yourself (with smoked paprika! or dill, or black pepper, or attempt something vaguely cheesy, etcetera). I dislike microwaves unless used to defrost or on Mary Berry's instruction with regards to lemons. Even chocolate won't melt in them properly! And this popcorny-stuff was gross. Never buy it, it is evil (and has yucky oil).
Now for the yay-part. I am afraid I have to agree with Dylan Moran: yes, that is exactly how I feel about shoes. I'm not sure if I agree with the rest of his statement, men don't strike me as overly sentimental either, but as far as it concerns me and shoes, it is true, even if it is autosexist (is that a word?). Yes, I know, I am a bad, bad unethical consumer, but a bad unethical consumer who's grown 5 inches instantly. I still look like a recently born giraffe that fell all the way down and has trouble getting up (or in and out of chairs), but in a good way. Proud, colourful, still somewhat wobbly, but not at all unattractive. Also, for men who don't understand heels, I somewhat sympathise, I used to have the same thing, and still have it more days than not. But maybe you should just try it. It's like Eddie Izzard says: equal clothing rights for all. Also, there's something about men in heels when done right that you just can't argue with, be it in classic or more modern incarnations. I advise anyone still unconvinced to look at Chiwetel Ejiofor in heels. Just, wow! Maybe not a look ányone can pull of, but more should try. Well, that was all very off-topic. If nothing else, you now know not to attempt a 50-cent-vanilla-ice-look on your own.
August 10th, 2014
An American-Dutch friend promised to hook me up with some Daiya, and when someone can get me Daiya, I try to be generous. Because it is the most delicious cheese in existence (Cheezly is seriously foul, and though Tofutti is not unpleasant, Daiya is the only one of which I can't make a better replica at home). There is no cruelty involved in making it and it is very very cruel that it is not widely available. I suspect that if it were freely available in the Netherlands at roughly the same price as dairy cheese, then lots of health-conscious folk (or creepy dieters) would switch because it tastes so good, and all the vegans would be in heaven. But I had to try and make something Daiya-worthy to give in return, and so I found this and decided to make a variation on a theme. My friend is a peanut butter aficionado. I started out planning to make it exactly the same, but halfway through the recipe (I was baking with my sister and a friend of ours) we fell back on good old Chocolate Mousse Pie from Vegan Pie in the Sky. And it took some (2 tsp) cornstarch to make the coconut-peanutbutter-topping work. My coconut milk never produces decent whipped cream even though it isn't homogenized, and I don't know why it doesn't. And then it all looked too good not to marble. I am really pleased with the end-result, and the tiny heart inside of a bigger heart was a welcome surprise. I only recently started marbling all of the pudding and mousse cakes. I never knew it could make pies look so good!
The cake was better than I thought it would be, and not nearly as heavy as I suspected. I also tweaked the crust a bit to make it less fat (only 6 tbsp of oil, and a little bit of soy milk), and it was still ok. It would work wonders with some kind of caramel filling or anything mocha. Banoffee and dulche de leche both seem excellent candidates. However, the next day, once it got soggy, it was really bad. And it didn't hold a candle to the shortbread-crust anyway. If I may suggest something: use the (chocolate) shortbread crust. It's the best crust I've ever made, easier than most, only a few pies don't go well with it. I wouldn't use it for a cheesecake, a cookie-crust is better for that, and I sometimes use the almond crust for creamy fruit-pies or raw pie-filling (I do bake the crust, because I found I dislike raw pie crusts or the time they take to dehydrate). But for the rest of them, unless you're making a savory tart, I'd almost always recommend a shortbread crust. You can keep one frozen for emergencies, and use it whenever you need it. It saves time and effort. For this one I think you could equally well use a cookie-crust with an extra pinch of salt, or the chocolate shortbread crust and then add some coarse sea salt to the topping. If you are into salty-sweet combinations.
What more did I want to discuss. Right, theatre and television.
Firstly, I saw the best Hamlet I've seen in my life so far. It made me realize how completely irrelevant the sex of an actor can be with regards to the characters gender. And how seeming contradictions there can even enhance a performance. I am still not completely sure what to think of the play, but it stayed with me, I've never seen a more gripping and current Hamlet (even though both the filmed one with David Tennant and the performance I saw by Oostpool were fantastic), and if it is not the best play I ever saw, it is a close second or third. A bit like seeing the recent "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" by Oostpool. You suddenly remember why it will always be worth it to keep "doing" the classics. And for those of you not in the Netherlands, I suggest you go to Digital Theatre right now and watch Much Ado About Nothing. I very much enjoyed all 2 and a half hours of it, and am planning to rent the Swan Lake next! It is wonderful to be able to sit in bed with your iPad and watch a performance you could never have visited in person. It's not nearly the same experience, but it is amazing and I think a very good development in theatre. This should happen with the amazing obscure stuff that nobody gets to see as well!
Having finished Father Brown, I decided to start on Death in Paradise. I am so sad that is now finished as well. I have a special weak spot for Detective Sergeant Fidel Best, not in the last place because of his name, and more importantly: he is absurdly handsome. Like a young Colin Firth, but with a more seductive accent and a moustache! Even when he wears the ridiculous policeman's hat. And I wish more policemen had the attitude of Dwayne, who actually owns an "undercover shirt". As in: "Hey Dwayne, I thought you were doing surveillance, you are wearing your undercover shirt." The stories are often hilarious, and most of the murder-mysteries have suprisising and ingenious solutions. The Miss-Marple-gathering-everyone-together-end-scene is a hoot, and I think Utrecht needs a bar like Catherines. Saving the best for last: I can only aspire to be as cool a person as Sergeant Camille Bordey. Whatever was lost by not having Lady Felicia, was gained tenfold by having a Sergeant Borday. Sergeant beats Lady any day! Did I mention there is a pet lizard?
August 3rd, 2014
First: an update on last week's feminism. In the comments, Arlette explained a thing a friend and I discovered that we didn't understand why she thought it was a blurred-out hotdog and I had picture proof of the contrary. So thank you for pointing that out! It cleared up a lot. And I hope the stencil was any good :) and that christians were only mildly offended. I was on a roll with regards to angry feminism! I ended the week by ranting about the availability of women's bodies as objects in our popular culture and how this stops us from developing into shameless, free-spirited cranky drug-dependent old bats who ban together to make horrible theatre about even worse subjects just because they are outrageous and a national treasure. There should be hordes of people doing that, and not just has-been middle-aged white dudes with a good pianist. Also, I biked past a different 538 advert and was surprised to see that it featured a gentleman firmly grasping a water-bottle clasped between his legs. You can't tell me that doesn't send a very different message from the one with the two women fellating meat. It made me think how I interpret that and the semiotics of each image, especially if I place them next to eachother. There's some discrepancy there. But like I said, if people truly want to express their sexuality by suggestively licking meat, they should. There's just a huge difference between expression, and using either images of denigration (women licking) or power (men taking their, uhhh, pleasure into their own hands) to sell stuff. Because it perpetuates a certain set of outdated yet ingrained and widely held beliefs, so it's not just harmless "fun" we should (or can) ignore.
Secondly: time to discuss vegan magazines! I subscribe to three different ones. I used to subscribe to the Vegetarian Times as well, but they were like a worse, cheese-laden version of VegNews, so no more! And speaking of the latter, there has been some internal struggle there (recently, I don't mean the dead animal scandal a few years back), and I am not sure what to think of it. I misunderstood the situation at first, because one of the founders, Mr. Connelly, is not being very dignified about personal grievances, or that's what I gather. It's a shame and I hope it can be resolved in a way that neither people nor magazine suffer even more. And I love that publication! I got some of my favorite, most-used recipes from them. I may have gotten an iPad just so I could draw in Paper and read VegNews, and I still do both quite a lot. Then there is LAIKA. I love the fact that they are independent, I love the fact that they had J-Wro, and they do have some really nice tips and a few good cookbook recommendations. I hope they catch up with the issues they said they'd publish by the end of this year. If I am correct, after two year-subscriptions, there should be eight, but that seems ambitious if they are just now releasing issue 4. It is very much a lifestyle magazine, and I am more vegan food than lifestyle, so even though they are really cool, I prefer Chickpea Magazine. Chickpea is so lovely it's almost magical, also independent, and if you want, you can actually contribute articles! How amazing is that? It is, compared to the other ones, super affordable and they have recipes, gardening tips, and the best photography. Sometimes they have recipes for personal care stuff, or reviews. The magazine is seasonal. The way they discuss the lifestyle-part of veganism is completely different to LAIKA, and it is more my style. They do make me buy cookbooks (and I can't blame them for it, because they pointed me to two of my absolute favorites: Afro Vegan and Vegan Secret Supper). It has never once made me feel inadequate or not living up to certain standards of beauty, nutrition or ethics, which is something I can't say for the other two, no matter how great they are. It's just my kind of magazine! The last issue has sundaes, but the one before that had marshmallows (still working on those) and things made with whipped flaxseed-meringue. Yes, really! And for roughly 10 euro's for 4 digital issues, it's so very much worth it. As Edwyn Collins would put it: it's a steal.
We should probably also do some vegan e-book reviews soon, because I have a huge collection of those. Well, not as huge as the physical collection that is still slowly expanding, but still substantial with a few amazing gems in there. I am currently really excited about two upcoming gluten-free books, because one of them promises to have puff pastry, and I am just a huge Fork & Beans fan! I also did quite a bit of gardening, and some redecorating inside and outside, and I have lost most of my black thumb of death. I promise to discuss the ins and outs of this in the future, as well as the decoration of my lovely balcony. It is the only one in the neighborhood that's this green and vibrant (and full of cats). I will leave you with the following short philosophical lecture on the subject of gardening (it's in English even though the article is Dutch). It is deep and thoughtful and exactly the kind of thing I would some day like to lecture about with regards to theatre and modern culture. I will also leave you with a link to a site I am both very excited about and really creeped out by. It is a lovely way to illustrate some of the issues regarding privacy and meta-data, but it is also something that genuinely thrilled me. Before you ask: no, mine aren't on there. So instead I'll inform you of the following: I know this cat, he is surprisingly agile considering his size and I once looked for about 15 minutes at him chasing another cat, petting them in turn from behing a bicycle they were fighting over, and this reduced college-gradution-related anxiety substantially. I've decided it's a he because of his size.
July 27th, 2014
You all know I am a very cuddly artist. I may get argumentative when there's a discussion, but I mainly walk around with a horse's head and I give out cake to strangers. But somehow these things sometimes attract a little hostility, even though that's the last thing I'm looking for. So when I decided (with my trusty, very removable, neon chalk-markers specifically made for glass and windows to be removed with just water once you're done with it and which explains why it's so badly visible in the picture) to comment on a piece of advertising so vile it kept me fuming for 5 hours, a man walks up to me to discuss my "defacing public space".
I tried to argue that that is how I feel about the advertisement, that it defiles the public space and peoples right to not be confronted with corporate-sponsored denigrating images. I tried to argue that the markers are specifically chosen because they are easily removable. But he wasn't just offended by my message and method, but also by the fact that I wrote it in English (which was for your benefit, guys) so therefore I must be uneducated and not know Dutch. This, in the context of our discussion, sounded to me like a racist remark, but I'm not certain it was meant as such. He ended with that it was "just plain rude and unacceptable". At that point I decided to stop explaining, ignore him and continue "defacing" with him still shouting a bit from a distance, but I fucked up the grammar because of my nerves. He left after I ignored him for some time. He was rather large, argumentative, very loud and he had an impressively ratty mustache, and as much as I'd have liked to not be affected by that, I was. So, enjoy my grammatically incorrect book recommendation of the week. Go read The Sexual Politics of Meat, go veg, be feminist, I will love you for it and try not to judge you anyway. Even if you are an argumentative intimidating shouty man who does not see the harm in two women fellating meat.
On a more positive note, I've added another piece of angry feminist "art" to this post. I saw a lovely gentlemen wearing a shirt that said "reduce your CO2, grow a bush", and this made me like him immediately. I wish that message was spread more widely. Then there was a Sherlock episode in which John shaves his moustache for Sherlock (cue awkward fan fiction). I agreed very much with John's message and Mary's suggestion that he should put it on a t-shirt. So I did. The stencil may or may not be a stylized representation (to scale!) of the artist's body, and trying to take the picture on which the stencil is based might have been one of the most slapstick-hilarious things the artist has ever done with a chair and a camera. Ok, I'm off to watch some Veronica Mars now and get back to calm. In my household, there's only one man, and he happens to be my dad and also to be very much in favor of giving the neon-colored finger to intolerant powers that be. He thought I was using permanent ink-marker and felt rather disappointed it was just chalk.
If you want to use the stencil, you can download it here. You need to stick the bellybutton on it with a tiny piece of duct tape, but the rest is stencil-proof.
PS. Do men regularly experience this thing where they go outside of their homes and see fellow men spread-eagle, or with mouths open, or licking suggestively at/strokingly holding on to phallic objects or just looking available next to a designer-item everywhere they look? It depresses me and I'm done with it. I don't want to see the men suffering this fate either. I just want a little bit more free expression and a little bit less intrusive mass-marketed corporate shit all over the place! Then you can display as many titillating images as you'd want, as long as it is a form of expression, not the use of the human body to sell stuff or control people. If it turns out to be your deepest desire, you can stand by the traffic lights completely naked, enthusiastically licking 2 sausages at once for all I care. Come see me, I do a great french or italian sausage and know where you can get a performance license!
July 15th, 2014
I've supported Vegan Mashup twice so far. And right now, I am really loving the second season. No matter how much fun it is to see Miyoko Schinner make "unbirds", it is even better to watch her feed the chickens, and have Fran Costigan talk about ethical vegan chocolate. She looks lovely by the way, and I thought she looked a bit scary from the picture in the Vegan Chocolate book. Back on topic: you can buy and or rent it on Vimeo On Demand, and I suggest you do. Especially for the second season. And also because it is a good thing to support people making a vegan cooking show. And it is wonderful to see people with awesome knife skills. Also, I want chickens. Maybe when I grow up and decide not to have cats. Who am I kidding, just look at my cats, you can't say no...
On a completely different note: Father Brown. I did not think I wanted to see a Catholic priest solve surprisingly tepid crimes, my associations with priests are of a less fortunate nature and I recently helped desecrate a church, but I can go for this. He is the epitome of reasonability and rational thought, and maybe a bit more open minded than the Catholic church allows, but I am all for open-mindedness, forgiveness, and rational thought. If you remove the hat, glasses, uncanny ability to end up on a murder scene and the frequent use of the word "God", you are quite close to who I am in a black maxi-dress. I suggest you start with "Ladies of Jerusalem", it is hilarious and wonderful. And Lady Felicia is an absolute joy, as is Mrs. McCarty obnoxiousness.
June 9th, 2014
Little did I know that when you forget to do something with your kefir for a few days, not only do you end up with lots of kefir grains, but also with cider! This is a welcome surprise (I read something along those lines in the fermenting book, but it also looked like it would take forever), because the last time I made cider, it wasn't just disgusting, it also exploded all over the living room, the garden, our cats and the neighbours dog. Seriously. We had to repaint a part of the ceiling (and clean part of a cat). The kefir is non-explosive and tastes good which is quite a relief. Since the grains are growing like mad, I can also give them to all interested friends. It feels rather strange to keep giving people living bacterial specimens, kind of like giving them non-sentient pets. My sister has approved of the kefir, and if she approves of food, you know it's good.
The same goes for Kombucha. A friend of my dad's (whom he met at work in Amsterdam), got us a SCOBY and I can't thank her enough! I thought I had to buy one, but she makes kombucha and her SCOBY had offspring. She gave us two, but now I only have one left because I could't keep up with the amount of babies it kept producing and the amount of kombucha I had to drink.
Kombucha is basically the roller coaster of the lemonade-world. There are no known health-benefits, it is a bit of an unusual activity when you look at it objectively and it is almost completely safe, but a few unlucky people have accidentally died because of it. I am still in very good health after drinking quite a lot of both homemade and store-bought kombucha (and am willing to bet there's probiotics there and in any case a delicious low-sugar carbonated soda). I can report that home-made tastes a lot better than store-bought. So it has gotten to the point where I serve it to friends, but maybe I will never feel safe enough to serve it to frail old people or pregnant women.
Back on the SCOBY: it turns out ours is of noble breading, its grandmother originating at Goldfinch. Which is not only nice to know, it also turns out this is an incredible source of information! I can certainly recommend the True Brews book, and although I have only read it and not tried any recipes yet, I also really like the Delicious Probiotic Drinks book. But the Goldfinch website settled a few issues that my books did not address ("My SCOBY looks a little bit like the elephant man grew a beard, is this normal?"). It is, and the recipe takes a bit longer than the book says, which I noticed, because last time I checked it after 7 days it was still rather sweet. I will update you on the cider, and let me know if you want a SCOBY. Mine is having babies like crazy! I can hardly keep up. Babies come with healthy SCOBY, so I just need do find more friends who aren't afraid of things that look like a cross between a jellyfish and an illegal organ donation.
I also had to share something fashion-related. I have been quite good about ethical fashion in the last few years, buying stuff used or when I know where and how it was made. I can't pretend I do that all the time or as often as I'd like, I am still trying to be better about it. So imagine my surprise when I looked at the bottom of my new (ridiculously high, vegan, leopard print, perhaps a bit trashy) heels and saw "made in Italy". I know that that doesn't make it all ethical and ok, but it is in the EU and it is a country famous for it shoe-industry. And despite being the highest heels I own, they are actually quite comfortable (if sweaty), which is a big thing for a 5 foot woman who usually looks like shot game or a rather ill giraffe when walking in heels higher than 6 cm. This merely makes me look like an antilope with a cold, which is a huge improvement from the physically disabled Emu that I usually resemble when I put on the high heels that get stuck in-between cobblestones (and so I no longer have any shoes that make me look like that).
Ps. I think Welcome to Night Vale had a very applicable sentiment to utter about kombucha. Actually, it was about beauty, but it still applies: "There is a thin semantic line separating weird and beautiful and that line is covered in jellyfish."
June 2nd, 2014
You have not heard from me in way too long. As always, this is because I am a bad, lazy blogger, because I have been cooking like mad, and because actual life got so exciting I forgot about virtual life.
First things first: I am a college student (again). Next year I'll start a pre-master in Theatre Science only a small bike ride from my home, and the year after that the actual master. With courses like 'Audience and Spectatorship' as well as 'Gender, Ethnicity and Culture-critiscism', I could not be more excited.
I also recently decided to pick up the cello again. That was a big decision, I used to play it about 12 years ago. I played it for 7 years and was actually properly good before I quit because my teacher left for Germany and his replacements were mostly comical, and at times horrible. And I haven't touched the instrument since. But I had my first lesson a few weeks ago, and things came back to me. It felt like the best thing I've done in ages (together with yoga maybe). So next September it will be new studies, new old instrument and same old cats. Now all I need is a cello...
The time you haven't heard from me was mostly spent throwing parties, cooking with friends and reading books on food trends. You should read The Tastemakers, it is enlightening and fun. I took a lot of pictures. They are crappy phone pictures, but delicious looking ones none the less. I've started you off with what happens when you try to style a sandwich on your balcony. Sorry, did I say my balcony? I meant the cat's balcony. You should also stay tuned for more cookbook-reviews. I cannot properly describe how awesome Afro Vegan is, nor how delicious the Oh She Glows Cookbook's arrowroot-ovenfries. The Blender Girl Cookbook wasn't that much of a revelation, but the "How to take care of your blender"-part was very helpful. Little did I know I've always made smoothies exactly the wrong way around.
It also seems the cats have gone nuts. I recently saw Betty guard a piece of cardboard wrapped in Sellotape like Gollum watching the precioussss, while Fatty tried to get at it. Also, Betty wakes me if I don't comply with her schedule (I went out and didn't get to sleep until 5.30, she woke me up at 8.30, and proceeded to lick me until I was awake enough to pet her, ugghh). Fatty recently walked in with a white paw now black and covered in tar. She refused to let me clean it, I got scratched. Her back paw is still a dark grey.
May 25th, 2014
The story of how we got our first cat, is a strange one. My mum had always assured me that we would never get pets, because you need to take care of them and it is an unethical thing to keep pets prisoner in your home, let alone a cage. So no bunnyrabbits, cats, rats, birds, no, not even salamanders were ever allowed to come and live with us. And I really wanted salamanders! Then came my 8th birthday. And my sister's 6th birthday (which is the day before mine). I was told we would get a really big gift. And that we would have to share. Armed with this information, my mind created this image of a garage with toy-cars. Because my sister and I both loved those cars that you can wind up by driving them backwards, and in my mind, this fantastical garage was the biggest (shareable and to both of us interesting) gift that could possibly exist. Children of friends had something similar, and I imaged a wooden version, bigger and better.
So when I got out of bed the morning of my sisters birthday, I was surprised not to see a garage. But I did see my sister already playing with the present. She was on the couch opposite the bed and she was stroking what I thought was the best plush toy I had ever seen. I couldn't believe that my parents had found a stuffed animal that looked so soft and nice and I was a bit jealous that we had to share so I immediately started to work out a schedule of who could play with it when. Deep in thought I joined my sister on the bed and touched the toy to feel if it was a soft as it looked, at which point it opened its eyes and yawned, in that way that cats do when they wake up and turn their faces inside out. I was terrified of the cat for to first week but in many ways (he was only with us a year before being cat-napped by a mentally unstable neighbour) it was a formative experience.
I will save the heroic story of how we got the face of evil and her brother, and their continued feud with my father, for later. And also the story of how the fat cat with the pus-infected eye managed to turn my dad from a cat-hating individual into an awkward animal lover. I have never seen someone pet a cat that awkwardly, or let it sit on his lap so reluctantly (while secretly really liking it). If you want to see or read more cat stories, you should definitely check out the documentary The Secret Life of the Cat, but also the book by the same researcher. It did clear up a lot of things about why my cats are the way they are. It has yet to clear up things about why I am the way I am. I am exactly one of those cat-lover of which Jonathan Safran Foer says in Eating Animals that "display an affection lacking, thank God, in most human relationships".
April 7th, 2014
Friends had a housewarming. And we catered. I only had time to snap some quick iphone pictures of the sweet stuff, but it looked good! Also, it does give me a chance to review some cookbooks.
The brownies are from Vegan Chocolate. I used to make the Deluxe Cocoa Brownies from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, with extra chocolate chips, but then I tried the Very Fudgy Chocolate Chip Brownies from Fran Costigan's Vegan Chocolate. They are wonderful, especially if you top them with caramelized walnuts or hazelnuts. It's a question of wanting a cake-mix-box-type brownie, or something that is mostly melted chocolate with added sugar. Right now I am very into the latter, it's especially good when you eat it out of the oven, still hot and therefore pudding-consistency. One of the things I hope to master in the near future is tempering chocolate, so maybe we'll see more of that.
The other cake is actually a different version of the Blueberry Bliss Cheesecake from Vegan Pie in the Sky. When I say different version I mean I kept the whole tofu-banana-base, but went a bit nuts with the berries. Also with the topping. And the leftover pomegranate was too beautiful not to put on top. The cheesecakes from Vegan Pie are perhaps my favorite ever, although there's a raw strawberry cheesecake, one of the very first raw cakes I ever made, that has a special place in my heart as well. The Raspberry Lime Rickey Cheesecake is actually more my thing than the blueberry one, but the blueberry is easier to adapt to whatever fruit is in your garden or freezer.
To come to a conclusion on this topic: Vegan Chocolate is an excellent book and I'd recommend it to anyone who'd like to get into fancy desserts. Or who'd like to get someone else into bed. Just speaking for myself: chocolate is a very good place to start. Vegan food in general, but the partner who bakes me Bittersweet Chocolate and Lemon Tartlets is a partner I am keeping. Ok, that's nonsense, the partner that's respectful and right for me is the one I am keeping, but tartlets and chocolate ice cream to go with that would be very nice...
April 2nd, 2014